Unchurched and Okay With It

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I grew up in the church. My dad was a pastor and we went to church pretty much all the time. My parents never forced me to go because they didn’t have to. I loved it. I was really good at it. People encouraged me there and I felt completely at home when I walked in those doors.

And that’s continued most of my life. There were some years during college and my 20’s when I drifted away, but I returned and re-connected and eventually made a career of it. For about 12 years, I dedicated myself to the church. I read about it, discussed it, studied methodology about it and worked in it – a lot. A whole lot.

Even though I grew up as a PK, there were some things about working in the church that I didn’t expect. You see there’s this funny thing that happens when you work for a church – everything in your life becomes centered in one place. My work life, spiritual life, social life, even mundane things like my insurance and my choice of where I’d live, all became centered around my church. I didn’t know that was going to happen and I really didn’t care. When Desi and I got married, that all continued. She jumped in, too and we made a place for ourselves and our family all centered around the church. And that was okay, until…

I’m not going to go into detail about what happened. In some ways it really doesn’t matter. I will say that it has nothing to do with a moral failure on my part or troubles in our marriage. Desi and I have a great marriage and incredible family life. But still this thing happened to us in the church. This awful thing. And after some time to think, pray and consider, we knew we couldn’t stay any longer. We had to leave. And it was hard.

Before this thing happened, everything we did and had in life was tied up in this one place, like a big ball of knotted up string. Suddenly we had to unravel all – or at least most of it – and disconnect from that place. It’s not what you dream about when you launch into your career in ministry and it’s been painful

Now, a year or so later, we’re left figuring out what to do next. We found another church that we like. It’s completely different than the place we were before, but it’s been really difficult to get to the point where we want to dive in again. It’s so hard to choose to trust people again. And frankly, I don’t want to. Every time I think about joining a new community group or taking part in some new program or serving opportunity, I want to throw up. It quite literally makes me sick at my stomach. And I hate that because I love the church. I really do. I just don’t want to be part of one right now.

I know that some people will want to reach out and help us see that we’re wrong about this. They’ll remind us of Hebrews 10:24-25. We are well aware of that passage. We agree with it. We simply disagree with the American Church’s idea about what that passage means. We still have a small group of friends we meet with and talk to. They know everything. They are with us and we’re with them. So we’re not completely alone and isolated. But we aren’t ready to sign on the dotted line and get our New Members Packet either. I’m sure it’s great, but I’ll pass right now.

So, what’s next? I really don’t know. I started my own business about a year ago and it’s growing. I may take a job for a while to help out but we’ll see whether or not that’s necessary. We’ve considered moving to a new place for a “fresh start” but don’t really know where that would be. We’d love to have a few acres with a farm house and a creek on it, but we aren’t in a place for all that at the moment. For now we’ll stay where we are and stay in touch with our friends. We’ll go to church some but not dive in right now. Maybe someday that will change. Frankly, I have no idea. As for now, we are unchurched and okay with it.